Dear Daughter is growing up. Since starting this blog, I've chronicled a bit of the drama and trauma associated with making the transition from little girlhood to young lady land. Mostly, it's not been so bad. At heart, she's really a great kid who is still rather eager to please and is a truly sweet and kind person. I am amazed at her thoughtfulness and desire to help others. Life with her is happy and exciting, even as we enter the emotional and physical minefield of prepubescence. I can handle her no longer finding it funny (at least not in a good way) when I dance in public or sing along with the radio. I can handle the fact that the days of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are all fading in the rear-view mirror. I can handle her dissing my deodorant as "old-lady smelling" and dropping words like "emo" and "dang" into her speech in a manner that is easy and familiar, as if they get used quite a bit around a certain middle-school lunchroom. I can even handle that seemingly overnight she leapfrogged past me in shoe sizes. What I am having trouble with is shopping for clothing. Fortunately, she has enough natural modesty and body-consciousness that she doesn't tend toward too many outrageous styles. Like most young girls, she did go through her phase of over-accessorizing and drenching herself in sugary lipgloss and cloyingly inexpensive perfume. I chuckled at her a little behind her back and let it go. Fortunately, it ran its course and her taste is now a little more classic, even at the tender age of 12. Today we spent two hours looking for one dress. Dear Daughter has always been tall, and while we haven't yet had a visit from the Hormone Fairy, her body type has definitely left the Children's Department behind and we've entered the bewildering and often scary world of Juniors. Browsing through the racks of two major department stores and three smaller chains, I found myself asking the question "Junior What?" Streetwalker, perhaps? Aspiring Pop Star, a la such role models as Miss Spears and Miss Lohan? It would be easier to find a needle in a haystack than to find a dress suitable for a 5' 4" pre-teen with no hips, breasts or need to go strapless in public. I'm not sure if the world has left me behind or if I'm just terminally fuddy-duddy. My sister would vote for the latter, but I just don’t see why clothing manufacturers can’t make just a few styles suitable for young girls to wear to, oh, I don’t know, church?
I tend to view culture rather like an MS Word document…that little “track changes” tool is always on, and I reserve the right to accept or reject changes at any time. I can’t stop her from growing up. Actually, I don’t even want to. While I will always be wistful for those days when I could actually pick her up and she would make up songs and stories about her stuffed rabbit, and dressing her was an enterprise easily accomplished in the 4-6x department, I am relishing this journey. Watching Dear Daughter grow and mature is an adventure unlike any I could imagine, and I wouldn’t trade it for two red ponies and a sack of feed. She’s a beautiful and wonderful young lady and everyday brings something new and exciting. We don’t always see eye to eye (well, not figuratively, anyway. Literally, we’ll be there in about three months.), but we love each other magnificently, and we rejoice in that love. I know the day is coming when she’ll pack up and go away to college, work and whatever the world holds in store for her. When that day comes, she is welcome to pack up all the strapless, string-strapped, micro-mini, cropped, bedazzled, branded stuff she wants. I think she’ll make good choices and avoid most of those, but until that day comes, all I want is just a dress with sleeves and a hem that at least touches her knee.